“It’s another fashion capital,” said Hilfiger, explaining the main reason behind the decision to stage the launch in Milan. “I love the vibe of the city, the food, the stores.” “And gelato!,” exclaimed Hamilton.
The collection, which was first introduced for fall 2018, was unveiled with a live model presentation on Monday night at the prestigious Società del Giardino venue, where the opulence of the architecture created a contrast with the modern design of the installation featuring Plexiglas cubes and red and blue lights. The lineup combined sartorial pieces, including a camel coat, with American urban icons, such as plaid shirts, varsity jackets and denim. The signature LH logo got a minimal makeover with its black square design and eco-friendly fabrics, including recycled down and organic cotton, which were introduced to highlight the brand’s attention to sustainability. Prices range from $49.50 for a T-shirt to $550 for outerwear.
“All the collections are always evolving. Everything is moving forward. Lewis really came in at the very beginning with his own inspirations and influences. We backed them in and it was successful right out of the gate,” Hilfiger said. “And then we started refining them, making them more upscale…better fabrics, more street luxe, I would say, and now it’s really hand-to-hand with the best casual streetwear brands in the world.”
Hilfiger also stressed the active role Hamilton holds in the development of the collections.
“This is all from Lewis because we asked him to bring all his ideas and he is involved in every single thing,” said the designer. “He picks the colors, the buttons, he does fittings, he looks at the washes of the denim, the quality of fabrics. It’s not just using him as the face of the brand [Hamilton is also Tommy Hilfiger men’s ambassador]. He is intimately involved and the amount of time he spends with the team is astonishing. It’s another day job.”
“I fly a lot to Amsterdam and London. But since I’m racing all the time, I have to work on my iPad. Sometimes I have a qualifying section and then I jump out of the car and I go home doing e-mails with the design team. It never really stops. You really have to do so much in such a short time with tight deadlines…and also new ideas always keep coming up,” said Hamilton, who spoke passionately about the project. “When I joined, they told me, ‘we want you to express your individuality.’ So I came with all my ideas; I was really fortunate to blend my ideas into the iconic Tommy DNA.”
While last year during the show in Shanghai to mark the launch of the first Tommy x Lewis collection some of the looks were shown on women, for the first time this season Hamilton decided to create a truly unisex presentation.
“Going to many fashion shows, I started seeing a lot of women wearing men’s clothes and a lot of men wearing women’s clothes. I wanted to be just a little bit more open. Diversity is really key. So I’m trying to move more to fully unisex,” said Hamilton. “I get girls, friends of friends coming up all the time asking, ‘can I get that in my size?’ We are really pushing forward to try to get this fitting all.”
Although being a car racer has always been Hamilton’s biggest dream, fashion played a relevant role in his life, as he explained.
“When I was young, I was always crazily into music and I was always into fashion. But at that time, we didn’t have a lot of money, all the money was going into racing. So I used to go to a local store which was selling second- and third-hand clothes and I was mixing those pieces. And then I was really lucky that I got to a point when people were inviting me to fashion shows and I was blown away by the circuit,” Hamilton said. “And I got so impressed by how people were expressing themselves with such individuality. I think that for me coming from the racing world, where individuality is kind of frowned on, fashion was encouraging to me to discover and express myself. Then I started going to more shows and we started [with Hilfiger] bumping into each other and Tommy was always so positive. And what we did, it turned to be far more than what I thought.”
While Hamilton left the interview early to meet his fans at the new Hilfiger store, which opened this month on Milan’s central Via Orefici, a stone’s throw from the Duomo cathedral, the designer discussed the future of runway shows.
“I think the format is about disruption. It needs to be unique, memorable, inclusive, diverse… it needs to be a great experience. It will change at a point going forward, because I don’t think that doing the same thing twice is a great idea,” he said. “However, I don’t see a reason to go back [to traditional runway formats]. It doesn’t make sense to go back. Will this change some day? I can’t tell right now, but probably not. Because with advanced technology, VR, holograms, digital and social media everything is changing.”
Hilfiger also revealed that the company has expansion plans in Italy.
“Business in Italy is very good,” he said. “It’s not just about Milan; we are really expanding all over Italy. We have been here for over 20 years, but now it’s really bubbling up. I think it took a bit of time because I think we had to figure out the proper position of the lines.”